On May 25th, 1977 Star Wars hit the theaters and created a worldwide phenomenon that to this day is a science fiction juggernaut with video sales, novels and merchandise. On October 30th, 2012 Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for $4.05 billion and immediately announced that Episode VII would hit cinemas in 2015. To Star Wars fans, this created a sigh of relief that Lucas would no longer “alter” the films, but then added concern if Disney would bastardize the franchise or create new hope and excitement they proved they could accomplish with The Avengers’ success.
I was only 4 years old when A New Hope hit the screen. In fact it wasn’t even called that until Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. George Lucas just called it Star Wars because he thought it might tank due to movie studios not originally wanting to distribute the film. Empire changed everything and now the episodes are all numbered. At the time I was too young to go to the theater, but it didn’t stop me from collecting all the figures, vehicles and playsets. There was no VHS or DVD players, so the only way I could “watch” Star Wars was by following along in a picture book while I played the movie’s official story on a tape cassette. I would even play the cassette as I set up complete movie sets with my toys. I wouldn’t say a word other than mouth sound effects and just let that cassette play as I positioned the action figures in combat or ran around my backyard with a Millennium Falcon that was bigger than me. To me, Star Wars was my entire universe. By the time Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, I was a Star Wars aficionado. I had the toys, bed sheets, curtains, comic books and tshirts. I was a walking encyclopedia when it came to the Rebels and the Empire.
Eventually I became an adult (my wife might say differently) and all six of the Star Wars movies were released. The original ones were altered so much that fans wanted to put George Lucas’ head on a pike and parade him all around Skywalker Ranch for “destroying” their childhoods (I recommend watching the documentary: The People vs George Lucas available now on Netflix). I didn’t see it that way. Jar-Jar Binks, midichlorians and Greedo shooting first were indeed abominations, but I didn’t see it as an alteration of my adolescence. I was more happy that the franchise I loved was extended, so I over looked the flaws of Lucas’ involvement. Besides, Lucas can never take away my memories or the adventures I had in my backyard. I owned those.
I only told you this backstory to illustrate my love of Han, Luke, Leia and Vader. I am just as vested in the franchise like so many of you. So the following are my personal hopes and maybe some predictions for the latest installment of the Star Wars saga.
Use the Timothy Zahn novels for inspiration
For a lot of people, including myself, the Timothy Zahn novel trilogy from 1991 were our answer to not having episodes 7-9. With Vader and the Emperor defeated, what bad guy was going to step up and take command of the Empire? The answer was Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was evil and cunning. He was also pretty vocal of his hatred of Vader and how he was too busy searching for Skywalker to properly command the Imperial Fleet. After the fall of the Empire, Thrawn decides to round up the shattered fleet and looks for a Dark Jedi to replace the Emperor. His goal is to wipe out the New Republic.
Meanwhile, Han and Leia have been married for a while and are expecting twin Jedi babies. Luke has continued with his training and has now been appointed to the rank of Jedi Knight.
I hated to read as a kid, I still do, but being a Star War nut, I wanted to read these books to find out what happened next to Luke, Han and Leia. The Zahn books, also known as the “Thrawn Trilogy,” was so perfect in setting up the next course of events for the Skywalker family, so why stray from them? I’m not asking for Episode VII to be an exact duplicate of the novels, but why not take established characters, especially the villain, and add them to the film franchises? Why create this mythical bad guy? If done properly, Grand Admiral Thrawn can be more viscous than Vader ever was, minus the ability to completely choke someone out from two Star Destroyers away. Will we see Mara Jade or Joruus C’Baoth? Probably not and I don’t care, just please give me Thrawn. I hopefully speak for a lot of Star Wars fans out there, but please, Michael Arndt, please give us Grand Admiral Thrawn. You proved you can write a nerdy and emotional story with Toy Story 3 (nominated for an Academy Award) and have great dialog and character development with Little Miss Sunshine (which he won an Academy Award). Don’t let us down with a crappy villain.
To me, Thrawn is the easiest of choices, but who will be the blue skinned alien with jet black hair and red eyes? I would love to see Mark Strong. He has experience with movie make-up as he was painted to play Sinestro in Green Lantern. He also played a strong antagonist to Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes. I think Mark Strong would really be diabolical as Thrawn.
Bring back Boba Fett
Not a single character in the Star Wars universe is as bad ass as the notorious bounty hunter, Boba Fett. He didn’t say much, but he was so cool. We got a glimpse of his origin as the son of the Jango Fett, who was cloned to become the Army of the Republic. Boba was the only clone that Jango did not want to have accelerated growth so that he could train him as a son and to be his predecessor. If you couldn’t play with the Vader action figure as a kid, Boba Fett was a fine replacement, if not better, and Slave-1 was a cool ass ship to have as a kid. It looked like a flying gun.
But Boba Fett went out like a bitch in Return of the Jedi. WTF? It was understandable that Luke sliced his sawed off laser gun with his lightsaber, but blind Han bumps Boba’s backpack with a guard’s staff and his jets make him fly off and bounce off Jabba’s sail barge into the mouth of the Sarlacc Pit? The greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy taken out by fluke coincidence? I can’t believe that. In the anthology “Tales From Jabba’s Palace” the short story “A Barve Like That: The Tale of Bobba Fett” by Daniel Keys Moran (published under the pseudonym J.D. Montgomery) goes into detail how Fett actually survives the Sarlacc Pit. Fans rejoiced! So if Boba Fett survived, how does he play out in the new movies? He was always after Han Solo, why not continue the rivalry? I know fans would be happy and so would I if we actually got to see Boba have more screen time than his daddy, Jango. Thrawn could have Boba hunt down Han and Leia and their unborn babies.
Don’t bring back Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, or Carrie Fisher
I know this may seem like blasphemy, but the original actors that played Han, Luke and Leia are just too old. It’s like having Adam West play Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. It was nice to have Leonard Nimoy play Spock one last time in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek film, but Zachary Quinto is now this generation’s favorite Vulcan. Besides, no amount of movie magic is going to make Carrie Fisher look 30 years old. Have you seen her lately? She once looked sexy in her gold slave bikini outfit sitting next to Jabba the Hutt. Now she looks like she ate him. Ok that was mean, but you get my point. The last time these actors were in their respected roles was almost 30 years ago. I also remember Harrison Ford saying in an interview when The Phantom Menace was in pre-production that he would never play Han Solo again because the character was one-dimensional. Maybe the new films can have these actors play a cameo, but I think it’s time to pass the torch.
So who is going to play the main three characters? My money goes to undiscovered actors that more fit the characters and are not just doing an impression of the actors. However let’s pretend Disney is going to cast established actors. Who has the ability to pull off the courage and strength of these characters and make them believable to fans?
Han Solo: The first person to mind is veteran sci-fi actor, Nathan Fillion. With his experience in the television show Firefly, why couldn’t he be Han Solo? His character Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds is pretty much a Han Solo Rip off (No offense to Firefly fans out there). Plus Nathan is the right age. He was born in 1971 which makes him in his early 40s. That is a perfect age for Han Solo in the upcoming trilogy.
If I had to pick a second choice. I would go with Ryan Gosling. He is a bit younger (born in 1980), but lets look at the longevity of what it takes to create a trilogy. Gosling is handsome and has the smart ass swagger it takes to play Solo. An actor like Gosling could also attract more females into the seats.
Luke Skywalker: This choice is tough. The actor to play can’t be too old, but then again, Luke is no longer a young boy on Tatooine hoping to become a pilot. Luke should now be in his early 30s. He is a mature man and only hope of returning the Jedi Knights to their former glory. At first thought I was considering someone like Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta in the Hunger Games trilogy, or better yet, his co-star Liam Hemsworth who is a couple years older. After Hemsworth’s performance in Expendables 2 as the rookie sniper of the team, he’s proven that he can play a mature role, yet be physically young enough to age with the franchise. The problem with casting Luke is going to depend on the age the filmmakers are going for. If filmmakers go for someone like Ryan Gosling to play Han, then they have to cast young.
Now if Disney casts some older actors, then may I suggest a few. How about Christopher Gorham, Alexander Skarsgård or Ian Somerhalder. Not only do these men have maturity to portray Luke in his Jedi years, but they also appeal the female nerds out their. I’ve personally been told these guys create “lady boners.”
Princess Leia Organa Solo: If you thought Luke was tough to cast? I’ve got to tell you that Leia is tougher. Carrie Fisher was amazing as Leia. She was beautiful, courageous and could command troops. Even though she was young for her age, she was mature beyond her years. So an actress has to have that exact same screen presence. The problem once again falls into exactly what age is Leia going to be in the films. Just like her twin brother, Luke, Leia is also in her early 30′s So we need to pick an actress around that age or slightly younger.
To be honest, my mind was blank to the thought of who could be the princess, then a friend suggested Yvonne Strahovski who is known for her work in NBC’s Chuck and Showtime’s Dexter. Not only is Yvonne gorgeous, but she has brains, she can fight and she has the ability to command authority. Other amazing suggestions would be Eliza Dushku or Olivia Wilde. Besides having their nerd cred, both can also handle weapons, fight and look amazing. To me, all these women could be Princess Leia.
Let’s get a super nerd to direct. It worked for Avengers.
The first person I ever thought of to direct a modern Star Wars film was Kevin Smith. Smith knows Star Wars cannon like the back of his hand. There is a classic scene in Clerks where Dante and Randal are debating on independent contracting on the construction of the second Death Star. The problem with Kevin Smith is that Disney may not take him seriously as a director to handle their billion dollar franchise. The same argument could also go towards super fan boys Seth Green and Seth MacFarlane, who created fantastic Star Wars parodies with their shows Robot Chicken and Family Guy.
So who could direct Episode VII? Some rumors are leading to J.J. Abrams, but really? First, he is working on Star Trek. Do we really want one man controlling both Trek and Wars? Besides, I really don’t want a shit ton of lens flares in my Star Wars movie. As much as nerds are now worshiping Joss Whedon as their God for making The Avengers such a success, he is going to be busy with the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series and working on Avengers 2. So who could accomplish with Episode VII what Irvin Kershner did with The Empire Strikes Back? How about the next best thing: Drew Goddard? He has worked with both J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods and Alias. Not only is he a nerd and fantastic writer, he has the experience for sci-fi and all things geeky. I also think he would collaborate with Abrams and Whedon in some manner, so the two men would more than likely still influence the end result.
On the other side of the coin and for the love of god, do not let Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Bryan Singer or Zack Snyder even touch a camera.
Right now everything is up for debate and speculation. All we know is that Michael Arndt is writing the first draft of the script and the movie is set for a 2015 release. Until then, nerds around the world such as myself, will only dream that Episode VII will be everything we hope for, but who are we kidding, we’ll probably be disappointed because nothing will ever compare to our childhoods.
So what are your hopes for Episode VII? Who would you cast? Who would you direct? We want to hear from you. Let us know your ideas in the comments below.